The striking red cardinal, which hails from North America was introduced to Bermuda in the 1800s and has been a welcome sight in gardens across the island ever since. Here are 5 things you might not know about this abundant bird.
- Though males are scarlet in colour with a prominent crest and black face, female cardinals can be hard to spot due to their browner feathers. As a member of the finch family, cardinals have a distinctive call and one of the best ways to locate them is by listening for them.
- Northern Cardinals are considered granivorous animals because their diet consists mostly of seeds. Their short, stout beaks are specially designed to crack open seeds and nuts. If you are hoping to attract cardinals to your garden, opt for sunflower seeds, cracked corn or shelled peanuts.
- Despite being an introduced species, it has been observed that the Northern Cardinal has had minimal impact on the island’s avifauna, fitting comfortably into Bermuda’s ecosystem. These birds can be found in woodland areas, gardens, mangroves and parks.
- Cardinals are highly territorial, especially during the breeding season. They become aggressive to predators by lowering their crest and performing a sharp call before initiating their attack by dive-bombing.
- Similar to flamingos, cardinals get their feather colour from carotenoids in the foods that they eat such as berries. If pigment-triggering foods are in short supply, their feathers may fade to brown. Some cardinals even have a defect, which fails to convert the carotenoids, causing the birds to be yellow instead of red.